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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Secures Student Loan Deferment Option For Cancer Patients

September 14, 2018
Press Release

The bipartisan fiscal year 2019 Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes a provision offered by Representative Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) that enables individuals who are diagnosed with cancer to defer payments on their public student loans while actively receiving lifesaving treatment.

“We currently allow individuals to defer student loan payments for various qualifying reasons such as going back to school, joining the armed services, looking for a job, or becoming permanently disabled,” Representative McCollum said. “Unfortunately, for the more than 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer each year, cancer treatment has not qualified for deferment.” The amendment was modeled off of the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act of 2017, H.R. 2796, introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).

“Cancer patients should not have to worry about their student loan payments while fighting for their lives. I’m so pleased that my colleague, Betty, was able to get this important bill included in the upcoming minibus where it will come to a vote by the full House,” Representative Ros-Lehtinen said. “Along with my colleague, Ed, we have fought to ensure that student loan payments don’t take precedence over health and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

“The hardships created for individuals and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis is only exacerbated by the financial burden of student loans when receiving treatment. This bipartisan provision is a no brainer and choosing between paying your medical bills or paying your student loans is a decision no person should be forced to make.” Representative Perlmutter said.

Representative McCollum offered the amendment during the House Appropriations Committee markup of the Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which the Committee passed on a voice vote. The bipartisan conference committee report is expected to be considered by the Senate and the House in the coming weeks, before the fiscal year deadline.   

“I hope that without having to worry about making their student loan payments, these patients will be able to focus on what is most important—beating their disease and getting healthy,” Representative McCollum said. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro for working with me on this important amendment,” Representative McCollum said.